Thursday, April 28, 2016


At the Pottery Wheel. Waiting for pottery to be fired up.

The Painting Place

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Dining “al fresco” brings the imagination to small tables in an open spaced front of a bistro.  In Howard Beach the tables may be on top of or alongside a restaurant facing a canal of private boats.  Frenasia, located at 163-35 Cross Bay Blvd., had built an abutting patio for your dining pleasure, just one aspect of this Asian fusion eatery.  


Enter into the lounge where the indoor bar sits across the way from the Hibachi tables.  Continue through to the back dining area as you pass the sushi bar headed by K.C., who should have been a “Flower Child”.

My friend Nancy and I chose that back area, particularly for the booths with cushiony seats and back support.  Can you say, “Aging”?  Sam is the owner who told us that the restaurant has been around for 12 years.  Sonny is the kitchen chef who has been working with Sam for 18 years.  A check of the menu reveals much of the sushi ilk.  Aside from Japanese, I view items of the Thai, and Korean. 

Drink menu looks good, but I’ll pass on any of the cocktails and go right to the cold sake.

Ozeki Dry Sake from California.  Must be “in” as Gekeikan is also using the same Sierra Mountain waters.  Loved the sake itself, odd having it being served in a glass containing shredded cucumber.  

Frenasia Dumpling Soup was the first of many indulgences.  Dumplings are a mixture of pork and shrimp seasoned with ginger.  A mildly tasting broth contained fresh cilantro, scallions and bean sprouts.  Cutting the dumplings into the broth gave a greater flavor.  This is the first time that I notice a small red carnation on the serving plate.  We will realized that the chef likes to use artistry in “painting the plates.”

Kumamoto oysters are great on its own. Top it with a mango salsa and the slurp will have you chewing in order to obtain the whole savory-ness.  Each oyster arrives on a soup spoon with slices of cucumber and lemon on the side and….an edible flower.  

A Spicy Salmon Tartar rested atop slices of fresh avocado sitting in a tartar dressing.  It was decorated with both red and black fish roe, and microgreens.  The spicy mayo dotted the plate along with a few tiny…flowers.

Soft shell crabs are a favorite of mine as I don’t have to pick out the meat.  Served atop slices of mango, this non-oily crunchy (but not thickly floured) delight had added sliced avocado and the chef’s spicy sauce.   The combination sparks “umami”.  Not sure what kind of flower was on top…looked sort of like a yellow carnation and not edible.

Here is another favorite. Seaweed Salad.  The marinated seaweed with sesame seeds are frozen when any restaurant purchases it.  What the restaurant adds can make a difference.  In this case, it rested on a thick slab of mango.  Do you get that mangos and avocados are popular?  Some little purple edible flowers decorated the top.  

Order the Frenasia Specialty Slider and you’ll not just get some heavenly tasting short ribs in a steamed bun.  The decorations (complete with flowers…of course) are worth a photo.  Does it take away from the flavor?  Not at all.  Very tender, slightly on the sweet side but enhanced with a spicy sauce.  

Time for a few maki rolls.  Duck roll with ginger, a spicy mayo atop. Peking duck.  Tasted both a bit peppery and sweet.  I don’t have to tell you what the plate was decorated with.  

Dancing Shrimp Roll sounded good. Shrimp tempura and lobster wrapped with mango, avocado served with a sauce to dance to: reduced balsamic vinegar and orange curry.   Gave it that little bit of cumin flavor.  Slices of cucumber and….decorated that dish.

Chilean Seabass Roll…different.  It was a combo of both the seabass and eel.  Eel sauce inside and a few sauces on the plate.  Okay, were starting to get full.  The thing is, there really wasn’t much that we ate that was so terribly filling.  No, we just wanted to pig out on good food. 

One more dish….before dessert.  Grand Marnier Coconut Shrimp.  OMG.  Just enough spice and served with broccoli, asparagus, green beans and a sweet potato puree.  

As for the dessert…I will try to describe it.  Mango tart topping a chocolate cake.  Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, berries, mint and pieces of chocolate.

Last temptation was a dessert plum wine called Aragoshi Kumi’s Umeshu.  Great after dinner drink.  I usually get drunk on Scotch Tape.  Sake doesn’t bother me as much.  Sake to me!  Kampai!!!


I was tuning into a show called Full Frontal and glimpsed what I thought was an exaggeration like SNL until I “googled” the subject of John Kasich going to a Matzah Bakery in Brooklyn meeting up with a group of Hasidic Jews and having no clue about who they are.

Cameras were rolling as he first says “It’s a wonderful, wonderful holiday for our friends in the Jewish community – the Passover”.  “The great link between the blood that was put upon the lamppost” and then saying that it was the blood of Jesus Christ.  How many years was it between Moses yelling, “Let my people go” and the birth of JC?  As he is talking, he is shaking the box of matzahs that he just received. 

You have to see the arrogant expression on his face and they now bring him to a bookstore as he lectures Yeshiva students about Joseph.  “You know who I like?” Kasich said.  “Joseph. You guys like Joseph? You study Joseph? What do you think about Joseph? Did you hear the most important thing Joseph said to his brothers?” He continues saying “Joseph was sold into slavery and that is how the Jews got to Egypt” and asks, “Did you know this.”  They are all being nice and with a totally dumbfounded look as Kasich thinks he knows more than a Hasidic about the Jews.

Talking with the Yeshiva scholars he says, “What do you guys do?” “Study”, they say.  “What are you studying?”  “The Talmud”, they reply. “Ok, but what are you learning right now?”  There is this long pause due to probably wanting to say, “That you are much too ignorant to run a country.  G-d forbid you have to visit Israel”.  However, the Governor, then asks what the lesson is. “Hilchos Shabbos, the laws of the Sabbath”.   Kasich doesn’t know how to reply to this most likely expecting to hear a parable.

He insists that God made a covenant with Abraham and not Moses.  Forget about reading the Old Testament.  Is he living under a rock and not seen the movie, The Ten Commandments? 
“Joshua was another great leader”, says Kasich. “Do you know about Joshua?”  He actually said about one of the men, “I’m going to have to teach him”. 

I am watching these clips online and FOFLOL.   Just when I thought that Kasich completed his idiocy, I watch the group walking him to his car.  He turns to the crowd and says, “Pray for me. Would you? You all pray?”  I’ve been up nights with this last thing going through my mind and wanting to yell out. “They are Hasidic Jews, you schmuck.  They pray at least 8 hours a day!!!!

Monday, April 18, 2016


Eric Ulrich is my councilman.  He talks a good talk and like most politicians do what makes them look good out there.  Nothing that I have ever requested comes back in any satisfaction or just doesn’t come back.   Ignore me and I’ll go away?   I am a “Senior Citizen” as well as being somewhat disabled.   For whatever reason the Board of Elections moved my polling place to where it is not walkable for me.   If I were to take public transportation, I would still have a bit of a walk.   Taking Access-A-Ride costs me the price as if I did take round trip transportation.

I called on my Councilman for a ride, hearing that one can do this.  Two elections ago, I reached out to Erich Ulrich’s office and even spent time speaking with him personally.   His cohort took down my information although it was not close to the date.  I did expect a phone call, etc.  Nothing.  Was unable to vote.  I was told that it was my fault and that I should have called the day before. 
Next time I did call days before and talked about what happened the last time.  Everything seemed fine and I waited for a phone call.  Again nothing and was told that I should have called them.  Why are they taking down my information if they don’t have plans to keep the agreement?   This time I spoke with Eric about it.  He apologized profusely and said, “Next time I’ll make sure that you go even if I have to drive you there myself.”

Again, I called a few week back with what Eric said and told that it was too early to call.  I called AGAIN this past Thursday with what Eric said.   Some guy took my information saying that they were coordinating the rides.   I told him that I wanted Eric to take me as agreed.  He said that he would make sure that I got a ride.  I said, “Don’t wait until Tuesday to call me”.  He said, “Of course not”. 

It is past 10pm on Monday and there was no phone call.   Luckily I booked Access-A-Ride as I do not want to miss this.  Yes, they know that I work for local newspapers but somehow it doesn’t matter.  It will.  My plan is to call Eric’s office on Wednesday and keep calling until I speak directly with him.  I will ask him for a statement to be published.  Apology not accepted!  He comes up for reelection next year.  I bet he’ll go out of his way to make sure I get to the polls!

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Many of the Queens restaurants are getting ready to show off their cuisines as Taste of Queens is approaching.  This year, the food fest will take place at the Hall of Science at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.  Chemistry of the senses will play a part as once again, the judges will choose whose appetizer, entrĂ©e or dessert will be the winners.  De Mole, located in Woodside, is one of the participants.  I was curious about some of the non-Tex-Mex. 


Ramiro Mendez is the owner who having been a chef for many years decided to be an entrepreneur featuring some of the healthier side of Mexican cuisine.   No lard and low on salt.  Surprisingly, he would rather give you a sauce to spice up your food than assume you want it “caliente”.

The restaurant appears to be small with about a dozen tables.  Ramiro pointed to the adjoining room which is used either for private parties or simply when the eatery gets crowded. 

“Freshly made” is what probably has the crowds coming in.   I popped in on a weekday at about 3pm and thought I would be the only customer.   At first there was one other table as I watched a mother feed guacamole to her infant son.  That already signaled that it would not be spicy (I don’t care for spicy food).  The guacamole comes with corn chips resting in a small paper bag (absorbs the oil).  I was given a small portion of a tomato sauce with jalapeno pepper.  It wasn’t too bad combining the two but “biting” just dipping into.   My waitress, Guillermina, was totally able to describe everything I ate.

Quite interesting drinks as they are also freshly made.  Lemonade, limeade, water with hibiscus and one with tamarind…all sweet and refreshing.  Wine and beer available but nix on having a margarita or such.

Ceviche de Varecruz, as close as I can get to sushi.  Maki Maki poached in fresh lime juice with chopped onions, tomato, jalapeno, avocado, cucumber, cilantro and olive oil.  Yes, it had a kick but anyone who is used to “hot” food will not even notice. I loved the crunchy "cup" that it was served in. 

Just for the heck of it, I tried a few "Tex-Mex" like a chicken taco.  There are two sauces.  A spicy red sauce and a green sauce.  I went for the green but…otherwise it was quite good. 

I also went for a tamale in a corn husk - Verdes Con Pollo. Okay, I like their Tex-Mex as well. 

Tortas are hard roll sandwiches.  Pierna is braised pork leg.  The sandwich is served with red refried beans, avocado, onion, cheese, mayo, tomato, lettuce and a homemade pickled jalapeno.  Actually it was all in the sandwich.  


When it comes to grilled skirt steak, they have perfected it.  It had a slight smoky flavor and required little pressure on the jaw.  The platter comes with rice, beans and 2 corn tortillas, coasted with mole poblano (mole sauce) and queso blanco (white cheese).    Opt for the Enchiladas de Pollo Con Mole Poblano (Chicken enchilada) that is rolled in a corn tortilla or one that has “beef brisket stew”.  

Hole Mole, I had to check out the desserts!  Orange flan: not overly sweet caramel sauce and a excellent creamy consistency.  I did try the Tres Leches cake.  Kind of a sponge cake with condensed and evaporated milk with bananas and real whipped cream atop (the third leche).  Enjoyed the flan, more.  

I’m not sure what Ramiro will present at the Taste of Queens. I’m certain it will be “tasty”.